Former colleagues vie for county clerk position

The winner of the Republican primary election will face Democrat Zac George in the general election for San Juan County clerk

Hannah Grover
2016 New Mexico primary elections
  • Both of the Republican candidates running for San Juan County clerk have decades of experience.
  • San Juan County Deputy Clerk Tanya Shlerby, 42, has worked in the office for 23 years.
  • Former county clerk employee Jim Johnson, 45, currently works in county's IT department.

Editor's note: The Daily Times is publishing stories over the span of three days that profile candidates running for local and state offices. We will focus only on contested races. Primary elections for New Mexico Republicans and Democrats will take place on June 7. Early voting ends June 4. Go to sjcclerk.net for a list of polling locations and hours. The winners of the primaries will compete in the general election on Nov. 8.

FARMINGTON — A Bloomfield man who spent years maintaining voting machines and educating youth on the electoral process will face the current San Juan County deputy clerk in the June 7 primary election for the Republican nomination for the seat.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Zac George, of Crownpoint, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Both Jim Johnson, of Bloomfield, and Tanya Shelby, of Aztec, have decades of experience in the county clerk’s office.

Shelby has worked in the office for 23 years, and Johnson previously worked in the office for 20 years. About six years ago, he switched from the clerk’s office to the county's information technology department.

Their campaign slogans are also similar. Johnson is campaigning with the slogan "Return to Excellence" while Shelby's is "Continuing the Excellence."

Tanya Shelby

Shelby said she has been preparing for this campaign since she first interned at the county clerk's office in 1991. After a short stint working in the title industry, Shelby, 42, returned to the clerk's office in 1995 and has worked her way up to chief deputy county clerk. She recently was designated designated as a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator.

She said that several previous county clerks, as well as the current one, have mentored her, and she hopes to continue the office's work.

"I truly believe that the San Juan County clerk's office is a role model for county clerk's offices around the state,  and I want to continue that," she said.

Her opponent is also familiar with the election process and the work the county clerk's office has been doing. Johnson, 45, started working at the clerk’s office in the early 1990s as a voting machine technician.

Jim Johnson

If elected, his goals include scanning the county clerk document index so the computer records go back to 1892, when the county was founded.

“They’re historical documents,” he said.

Because the handwritten documents are so old, they need to be stored in an archival fashion, and Johnson said each time they are opened the books are damaged. The documents record property ownership and oil and gas leases.

Johnson also wants to decrease turnover in the county clerk’s office and increase voter outreach to local high schools.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.